Back when I used to occasionally find myself at a McDonalds, during the “Happy Meal” years, the Filet-O-Fish was my meal-o-choice. Never a big fan of burgers (with the exception of the “World Famous Huey’s Burger” in Memphis, TN) I will always prefer a sandwich like the ones you see below. None of them are even the slightest bit more difficult than cooking your basic cheeseburger… and even the burger lovers in my family devour them happily. I’m going to write these recipes for one serving each and you can just multiply as needed.
Well, it is the first day of July and the farmers markets are in full swing here in North Carolina. Last Friday I picked up a basket of the biggest, sweetest blackberries that you have ever seen. In, A Skillet Full, a Cookbook of Traditional Southern Lodge Cast Iron Recipes and Memories, 87 year old Bertha Russell Gonce is quoted as saying, “We have blackberries growing beside the fence in front of our house. We pick them in July, but we have to watch out for ticks, chiggers and snakes.” I guess that I got off easy because all I had to do was pull over at a roadside farm stand outside of Boone, NC to find these beauties. You will find Miss Bertha’s recipe for Blackberry Cobbler below.
I didn’t grow up eating Asian food….unless you count the brief period when, as teenagers, my friends and I liked to get won ton soup and fried rice from a local inexpensive “Chinese” restaurant. Come to think of it, I stopped eating there when I heard a rumor that each won ton in their soup was filled with a tiny little chicken brain. How embarrassing to think that I believed that they were taking the time to extricate a chicken brain for each and every won ton wrapper!
I’m picky about pasta salads. I don’t care for creamy sauces or large pasta shapes in cold or room temperature dishes. But there are good reasons to have a few pasta salads in your repertoire. They can be made ahead of time for entertaining and as a matter of fact, most of them taste better after they have had time to marinate a bit. Also, they are easy to transport to picnics and pot lucks. So, as you will see, my favorite pasta salads will use the smaller pasta shapes and will have light, flavorful vinaigrettes.
1 bunch fresh basil
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
In a blender or food processor, chop basil and garlic. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend to make a smooth vinaigrette. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
CLEOPATRA: My salad days,
When I was green in judgment: cold in blood,
To say as I said then! But, come, away;
Get me ink and paper:
He shall have every day a several greeting,Or I’ll unpeople Egypt.
From Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra, 1606
To William Shakespeare, “salad days” referred to the carefree days of one’s youth. No doubt this allusion came from the image the freshness, tenderness, and greenness of the lettuce leaves. In any case, every day is a salad day at our house because there is rarely a meal served without one. Here’s hoping that this will keep us young.
For the vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Peppercorn Ranch Dressing
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sour cream
1/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dried minced garlic
2 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper
Salt to taste
Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Season with salt to taste.
Like many people, our first exposure to lettuce wraps came from PF Changs and soon we were making our own version of their appetizer as seen below. That was years ago and we still love to make a whole meal of these chicken lettuce wraps. But why stop there? There are endless possibilities when it comes to the lettuce wrap concept. Here are three of our favorites. While iceberg lettuce is the traditional vessel for the filling, bibb lettuce and even romaine can be a nice change of pace.
I love to bake. But there are many times when I need, or want, to produce a dessert and can’t find the time to bake from scratch. That doesn’t mean that I want to settle for less. Here are three impressive desserts that you can pull off in short order with a box of brownie mix and a mini muffin tin.
1 box high quality fudge style brownie mix (I use Ghirardelli) plus whatever ingredients are called for on the box.
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 tablespoon confectioners sugar
1 pint fresh raspberries
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Prepare a mini muffin tin by spraying with nonstick cooking spray. Mix brownies according to the package directions. Carefully fill the mini muffin tins about 2/3 of the way to the top. Use a wet paper towel to remove any dribbles that might burn on the outside of the pan. Bake 10-20 minutes. Baking time with depend on the size of your particular muffin tin, as they vary. Look for the tops to be shiny and crackly, and remove them from the oven when the center is just set. It is important not to over cook in order to maintain that fudgy quality. Cool for 10 minutes then remove from the pan and cool completely. Meanwhile, whip the heavy cream with the confectioners sugar until it makes soft peaks. When the brownie bites are completely cool, garnish each with a generous dollop of whipped cream and a big, fat, juicy raspberry.
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces